Arrested ‘money changers’ to spend two more days behind bars, bail ruling deferred

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 By Staff Reporter

Suspected forex dealers arrested last week on allegations of contravening the Exchange Control Act will spend more days in jail after bail ruling was deferred.

Their relatives who came in solidarity clogged court corridors on Monday but were not allowed to follow proceedings, with authorities stating that they would be briefed by lawyers.

The presiding magistrates, Dennis Mangosi and Ethel Chichera, who sat in different courts said they will start handing down bail rulings on the 24th of this month.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is opposing bail on the grounds that the offence is a serious one which attracts a custodial sentence if one is convicted.

Prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti said he will tender written submissions opposing bail by the end Monday before the defence files its response.

The suspects are represented by different attorneys and some are self-acting.

They all deny the allegations.

The state alleges the suspects were nabbed committing the offences after being trapped with marked USD notes.

Some were arrested after the police posed as customers who needed airtime.

One of the suspects is Albert Dzikamai Chekure, a City of Harare employee.

Prosecutor Thomas Chanakira said Chekure was trapped with a US$10 note by police officers who posed as airtime buyers.

“He was approached by undercover detectives who pretended they wanted Buddie airtime worth ZiG130.

“The detectives gave him trap money and in turn, he transferred airtime from his Ecocash number. He was subsequently arrested,” said Chanakira.

Chekure however denied the allegations stating that he was involved in a drag-net arrest on his way to work.

The suspect denied ever receiving trap money from the police officers.

He however told the court that he was standing with a forex dealer, and was looking for cash when the money changer fled from the scene.

“I’m not a money changer. I am formally employed as an operator in the water department by the Harare City Council. The police arrested me after the money changer I was standing with ran away,” he said.

Other suspects are Collen Matirinde (42), Terrence Vangaridze (28), Lovemore Duri (22), Johnson Kamhuka(29), and Malvin Marere (22).

They were arrested in Harare CBD on Independence Day.

Prosecutors allege they were found in possession of automated teller machines, ATM cards and point-of-sale machines which proved they were dealing in foreign currency

A lawyer representing 13 suspects, Tatenda Ishemukuru Ndlovu said his clients were only found in possession of debit cards.

“They are being charged with unlawful possession of debit cards. The state alleges they were in possession of debit cards not registered in their names,” he said.

“It is a criminal offence to be found in possession of a debit card which is not registered in your name in Zimbabwe. My clients deny the allegations,” he said.